May 252015
 

With self-sufficiency you never get there, you never become self-sufficient. I mean we tried back in the seventies. We had goats and chickens and bees and I was trying to raise grain. Pretty soon I realized that if I want to raise enough wheat for the bread for a year here, it’s better left to a specialist, like I can’t be my own dentist. So you do, it’s a direction self-sufficiency. You do what you can do as much of it as you can.” – Lloyd Khan

The holy grail is not total, off-grid isolation [although that would be nice]. It’s about doing little bits at a time, reducing dependence. It’s a lifestyle!

Mar 072015
 

While I yearn to be free of the “Shitty of Jhb” I’m starting to think it may not be that simple after all. One child will definitely not be keenly embracing a move to Glencairn, he that is in no position any time soon to self provide. The other is keen, but who knows…?

And so, as usual, my mind is spinning with scenarios and contingency plans…..

Assuming we sell up with our desired R2.5M in pocket [a number I suspect may be a little optimistic] and settle the current bond, that leaves R1.5M invested. Roughly calculating on the 4% rule shows this lump sum giving a monthly income of around R5k pm. Not all that exciting!

The other option is to get over our emotional attachments and put the place on the rental market. I’m pretty confident that we’ll pull in a [conservative] monthly rental of R12-14k for 253. So, on the face of it it appears to be a no-brainer! After all, it’s double the monthly income and, if it doesn’t work out longer term, we will still have the option of selling up.

Main challenge obviously is we still need a place to stay, so thoughts are turning to the next big project…..

Draft plans for an off-grid cottage

Draft plans for an off-grid cottage

I see Sand’s eyes light up at the prospect. This is something we can both immerse ourselves in. The beauty of it is that the basic structure is there and the project can be tackled on day at a time, spreading the effort and the cost over a couple of years. We may even get a slot on Amazing Spaces or Grand Designs at the end of the day [ha ha].

We are already doing this in Glencairn, renting and living downstairs, so it’s a short mental step to do the same at 253. A car here, a car there, R20k rental income every month to pay for flights and we’re all geared to take life into the next phase. It opens up option to work in Jhb still but live more by the sea. It solves many potential family housing issues. It seems to have a lot going for it. The more I think about it the more I’m convincing myself it’s a worthy path to follow.

We may go for it and then we may not. Either way we can’t loose. If we do eventually decide to sell up, the addition of a rental unit on the property will only increase the sale value. Besides, Sandy needs a decent construction project again! This just may be our next 2-year DIY challenge!

Mar 012015
 

While the rest of the world are rushing out and “investing” in generators for fear of how bad the rolling power outages may become we’ve taken a different tack.

For everything you acquire in life there is some logic in applying a return-on-investment thought process. Is it really worth the spend? Will one really use it? Is it worth the x hours of life I needed to spend shackled to the desk to earn the cash to buy it?

For that reason I’ve never got my head around the generator panic-purchase thing. It’s a fear-driven response to something, that while inconvenient, has never really effected me that badly. Sure, there have been the odd evenings when the power has gone just as we’ve fired up the oven, but they haven’t been so frequent as to prompt me to part with upwards of R8000 for a decently sized personal generation plant.

As Danger Dave once said “South Africans braai. We’re born ready for power cuts“.

Problem is the classic open-coal fire, while good for searing steaks, is pretty limited and very fuel-inefficient. One typically needs half a bag of charcoal briquettes to merely braai the chops for a family of 4. Do that every night and the charcoal costs start to approach the sticker price of a generator.

Enter a superb South African invention – The Cobb! Last night we grilled a 1.5kg beef roast on only 10 charcoal briquettes. Superb meal, totally off-grid and super fuel efficient. It’s small and portable and so, for us, doubles as a camping cooker as well as an easily portable oven for the yacht which, in winter, will double as a cabin heater. Money well spent.

Put your desired number of briquettes in the fire basket

Put your desired number of briquettes in the fire basket

cobb2

Once the coals are well alight pop in the roast and close the lid. Crack a good bottle of red and relax!

cobb3

After 2 hours of slow roasting we have a superbly done beef roast. Bon appetit.